Relief from the parking headache

I don’t know about you but finding a parking spot tops my list of least favourite activities. As a big city dweller, parking is premium: it’s difficult and always comes at a cost. Usually I’m forced to decide between paying a high hourly fee or parking far away and walking (good for my health, I know, but bad for my keen sense of punctuality). And the search always takes longer than I anticipated. So I was really enthusiastic to learn about a few new web-based services that promise to relieve the pain of parking.

Streetline is a California-based start-up on a mission to “make smart cities a reality through the use of sensor-enabled mobile and web applications”. Their flagship product Parker™ claims to be the first app to offer advice in real-time that eases the search for a parking space. Parker™ relies on a combination of street-level sensors, mobile apps, analytics and system management software to seamlessly guide users to available parking and is compatible with both smartphones and vehicle navigation systems. According to Streetline’s website, persons searching for parking causes around 30% of traffic in cities and generates a huge amount of unnecessary carbon emissions every day. What’s not to like about saving time, reducing stress and lowering your environmental impact? I haven’t tried the app yet – it’s currently undergoing European testing in the UK and Germany – but all accounts I’ve read convinced me to try it ASAP.

A few other start-ups have also made reducing the stress of parking their ultimate goal – albeit with an entirely different approach. Ampido and Park2gether, two up-and-coming German companies, bring together available private or company parking spaces (think: garage, driveway or company car park) and motorists looking for a spot to keep their vehicle. Users and parking-space offers come together via easy-to-use smartphone/tablet apps or on the companies’ respective websites.

For me, this so-called parking-space-sharing is a logical and exciting consequence of the booming shareconomy. One aspect of these young companies that I personally admire is their drive to maximise the capacity of existing parking spaces and infrastructure as opposed to simply saying “hello city council members, build more car parks!” It’s this kind of innovative thinking that helps make our cities smarter and more sustainable and our lives less stressful.

Have a look at Streetline, Ampido, and Park2gether for yourself (the last two sites are currently in German only). Have you or would you use these services? Do you personally have any “great ideas” of how to relieve the parking headache? What are they?

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